Three albums into Max Webster’s catalogue and we finally get to an album that I really, really like instead of love. Actually, Mutiny Up My Sleeve grew on me with its extreme highs this week, so I might enjoy this album even more in the future. As for right now, I do find it is held back from greatness by some dips to average songs or below. I have been shying away from doing writes up where I break down an album song by song because I tend to find the process to be boring. But I think that is the only fair way to treat this album. If I judge it only in comparison to Webster’s previous two albums I would come off overly negative. Which, I don’t want to do because I do really, really like it.
Before we get to the review, I want to mention an important lineup change. Dave Myles took over the bass for Mike Tilka, who stayed with the band to produce the album. Reading this reminded me of the period of time when Bob Rock was the bass player for Metallica. I guess only Canadians can get away with that trick! Alright, on with the countdown:
Lip Service – A+
An excellent start. If fact, the album’s first two tracks are complete aces. Lip Service, specifically, has one hella of a big ‘n beefy ’70s guitar riff. I love Kim Mitchell’s blazing guitar solo and energizing vocal melody. It is just an all-around exceptional hard rock tune.
Astonish Me – A++
I am floored by how keyboardist Terry Watkinson has the only writing credit for this one. Nothing against the guy, but the songwriting A-Team for the band is the lyrics of Pye Dubois with the music of Mitchell. This was like discovering one of your favourite Beatles songs was written by George Harrison instead of Lennon/McCartney. Astonish Me is a fantastic piece of prog. It is beautiful at times, rocking for the rest. Its lyrics gave me the chills. Top-shelf Webster.
Let Your Man Fly – B
Adequate overall but driven by an uninspired blues boogie.
Water Me Down – B
I do really enjoy the “Water me down when I’m down” chorus for this one but this is bland otherwise. It comes off as the budget version of Astonish Me.
Distressed – A
Kim’s guitar licks tie together all of these pieces of prog. He rips a solo while the drums and bass fill and fire in sync like a machine. Great tune.
The Party – A+
Fun fact, this track was recorded live at Seneca College’s Newnham Campus, which is just down the street from me. I pass by it every day during my morning commute!
This is a crackin’ piece of prog. I have heard a few times on the radio… about 15 or 20 years ago when the radio would play the odd cool song. One line from this song has always stuck in my head:
We’re just musicians here to thin the thickness of your skin
At times I feel this blog is here to do the same, lol.
Waterline – D
The blues is just not this band’s forte. They tend to sound thin when they attempt it.
Hawaii – C
Mostly an instrumental with the majority of the lyrics being a couple of spoken word lines from Kim. I originally gave Waterline a “C”, but after listening to this I drop its grade on a curve. Hawaii is OK prog and a fine example of a “C” Webster tune.
Beyond The Moon – A
Webster’s previous two albums had a quality piece of prog with the word “moon” in the title. This continues the tradition. The keys drive the rhythm for this song along with a plethora of drum fills. And Kim shreds all the way through it. High note ending.
So, if we take all of the letter grades for each of the 9 tracks…
1 – A++
2 – A+s
2 – As
2 – Bs
1 – C
…I can use my
Not too harsh, eh?